By Alejandra Okie
Everyone can benefit from eating healthy. Healthy eating habits can help you feel better and have more energy, control your weight and reduce the risk for certain diseases. Healthy eating does not have to be complicated. If you stick to foods that provide lots of nutrients and are low in calories and fat you’re already on your way. Follow these simple tips and get started eating healthy and feeling great.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables with every meal. Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins, fiber, antioxidants and other nutrients that our bodies need. Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables and try to create a rainbow of colors on your plate. Eat at least 2 to 3 cups of vegetables and at least 2 cups of fruits each day. Half of your plate should be made up of fruits and vegetables.
- Buy produce that’s in season and grown locally, whenever possible. Fruits and vegetables that are in season have more flavor and nutrients, and many times they are less expensive. Find out what is in season now where you live. If you can afford it, buying organic fruits and vegetables is always better for your health and for the environment.
- Read the labels. First look at the serving size and the number of servings in the package. Also pay attention to the calories, total fat, saturated/trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and carbohydrates in each serving. Look at the percent daily value. For example, if by eating that candy bar you’re getting 40% of the daily-recommended fat content, is it really worth it? Learn more about reading ingredient labels.
- If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, don’t buy the product. Make sure you read the ingredients when you’re at the grocery store. If the product has too many ingredients, it probably is very processed and not healthy. Always avoid partially hydrogenated oils (saturated fat), high fructose corn syrup, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) and artificial flavorings. If you see numbers on the list of ingredients (for example, red #40), this means that the product has artificial colorings, which are not healthy for you and can cause upset stomach or even allergies among kids. Avoid preservatives such as sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite.
- Choose whole grains. At least half of the grains you eat should be whole grains. For example, choose whole wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta, brown or wild rice and whole grain cereals. Stay away from white bread and refined flours.
- Choose leaner meat and broil, grill or roast it instead of frying. Make sure you trim excess fat. Vary your protein sources and eat fish, beans or tofu instead of meat at least once a week.
- Watch your portions. Healthy eating also involves being mindful of how much food you eat, especially depending on how active you are. Take a look at your plate and make sure fruits and vegetables take up half of your plate. When you’re snacking, serve the food on a plate instead of eating it straight from the bag or box. Stay away from supersized portions. Learn more about portion control.
- Choose snacks wisely. Get used to reaching for an apple or other fruit instead of ice cream or cookies. Fill up with carrot sticks and hummus or nuts instead of chips.
- Drink lots of water. Liquids, and especially plain water, are essential for good health. Water transports nutrients within your body and helps you get rid of toxins and waste. Skip the sugary drinks, soda and juices that contain very little real juice since they don’t provide many nutrients and can contribute to weight gain because of their high sugar content. You’ll get used to drinking unflavored water the more you drink it.
Once you start eating healthier, your body will crave fresh and natural ingredients more and more. Along with sticking to these healthy eating tips, don’t forget to get your body moving and make time to exercise.